Garments retain the remnants of the humans that have touched it. The sweat, skin, and material that the wearer leaves behind extends from the artisans that produced the fabric, to the laborers that cut the panels for their assembly, to the sewing machine operators that assembled those pieces. The consumer , sees the cumulative work, finds that piece of clothing suitable for themselves. They may come to care for it, even cherish it. At the point I interject myself into the cycle of that attire, seeing its journey in all its segments passed from hand to hand and its usefulness is discarded.
I am preoccupied with individual identity, its sublimation, dissipation, solidification and all other states that occur when met with collective identity, which is just as unstable. How does one defy classification, or come to define it? How do we explain our selves when labels at hand change fluidly, as if they were written in the air? When I saw those clothes, I saw them as I did in Puerto Rico: billowing as they formed, lost, and reformed semi-translucent shapes in the wind and the sun as they hung from clotheslines.
My work exists along those lines. Sometimes I imagine my movements through the city and see my body moving along the streets I’ve traveled thousands of times. I see a millipede made of a million of me going around the corner of Myrtle Avenue. On clotheslines the clothing remains connected to each other but are pinched to their positions. The clothespins that hold them are secure, but immobilizing. It reminds me of community, or family.
In a way, I’ve lived a small-town existence in my native Brooklyn. Maybe it was the summers and years in the mountains of Florida in Puerto Rico that influenced me. Perhaps it was Williamsburg itself, a small, neglected community when I was a child, now something else. I aged as the neighborhood grew, yet like other residents have felt, I did not feel enriched by the experience, nor part of it. We no longer had any usefulness.
Undressing garments, I revel at the number of panels and structures used to build a simple pair of pants. I had no intention to critique or analyze, but to observe and absorb. The original idea had been to reassemble, but as I worked more with them, I understood that what they needed was to be seen. I wanted to reveal what had been overlooked. To make visible the parts of these outfits that reflect their human conception, construction, assembly, transportation, and consumption.
Once dissembled, these forms that used to be garment remember former shapes but are beginning to understand new ones. I guide them along to these using wire to coax a line that runs along a seam. Then that may run perpendicular to another hem, and I can coax that line along its intended path. I am meticulous in trying to find an innate form that exists within each piece.